The South Wind Doth Blow

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow and what will poor robin do then?  He’ll sit in a barn to keep himself warm and hide his head under his wing”  Children’s nursery rhyme

Southern Alps NZ

via Wikipedia

Except here in the southern hemisphere it is the south wind that blows and today it’s blowing straight off the Southern Alps.  The temperature hasn’t risen above 10 degrees Centigrade and tonight it is forecast to fall to 4.  Very cold.

Added to that it has rained solidly all day and non stop.  So eventually we had to go out.  Lotte and I both needed to get some fresh air.  She doesn’t like to get her feet wet so she was a pretty miserable little thing once she got outside and saw the rain.  But she needs her walk as do I.

Storm clouds

The only people we met during this walk were other dog owners out with their charges.  Our walk was of necessity, very short and Lotte decided that the place for her was in front of the fire.  She really looked like a drowned rat when we got home again.

Do you know and/or use the phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs”?  This was a phrase commonly heard when I was growing up.  It always seemed strange to me and nobody appeared to know where the phrase originated.  Now with the internet and our trusty friend Wikipedia I have been looking for the origin.

Well it appears there are many.  One source World Wide Words tell us  – “The most common one says that in olden times, homes had thatched roofs in which domestic animals such as cats and dogs would like to hide. In heavy rain, the animals would either be washed out of the thatch, or rapidly abandon it for better shelter, so it would seem to be raining cats and dogs.”  and then – “The most favoured one in the references I have found is mythological. It seems that cats were at one time thought to have influence over storms, especially by sailors, and that dogs were symbols of storms, often accompanying images and descriptions of the Norse storm god Odin. So when some particularly violent tempest appeared, people suggested it was caused by cats (bringing the rain) and dogs (the wind).”

And from – “The much more probable source of ‘raining cats and dogs’ is the prosaic fact that, in the filthy streets of 17th/18th century England, heavy rain would occasionally carry along dead animals and other debris. The animals didn’t fall from the sky, but the sight of dead cats and dogs floating by in storms could well have caused the coining of this colourful phrase.” and ” Jonathan Swift described such an event in his satirical poem ‘A Description of a City Shower‘, first published in the 1710 collection of the Tatler magazine.”

So which one do you prefer.  I lean towards the Jonathon Swift filthy streets.  I can imagine how filthy were the streets of London in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Cover Mayhew's London

Very tattered cover of book

And then I went off on another tangent.  I have another old book entitled “Mayhew’s London” first published in 1861.  I don’t know when my copy was published but it is hardback and cost 25 shillings.  As there were 20 shillings to a pound I guess in the early or even mid 20th century when this book would have been purchased, it was quite expensive.

There are illustrations of the time and descriptions of how many made their living or at least enough to survive.  It is a fascinating book and I propose to share parts of it in some other blogs.

But for now:

The Hurdy gurdy player

Old Sarah, the Hurdy Gurdy Player from "Mayhew's London"


London Costermonger from "Mayhew's London"

Costermonger, or simply Coster, is a street seller of fruit (apples, etc.) and vegetables, in London and other British towns. They were ubiquitous in mid-Victorian England, and some are still found in markets. As usual with street-sellers, they would use a loud sing-song cry or chant to attract attention. Their cart might be stationary at a market stall, or mobile (horse-drawn or wheelbarrow) – from Wikipedia

These costermongers are still to be found in the street markets of London.

And now I will stop these ramblings.  Lotte and I are off for a few days and I wont have access to the computer.  So I will have loads to report when I return in the middle of the week.


My rainbow


17 responses to “The South Wind Doth Blow

  1. If it does rain cats and dogs … be careful when you go out that you don’t step in a poodle :-S
    Enjoy your few days away 🙂


  2. Learn something new. That was very interesting! Thank you for sharing! Next time it rains, I’ll be looking at it alittle differently.


  3. Fascinating information. Thanks for posting it. I love the rainbow..BTW.


  4. Always felt Victorian England a tumultuos time with Empire, wealth, poverty, labor movement , rise middle class, evaporation power aristicracy


    • The huge gulf between the haves and the have-nots has always intrigued me. The lower classes were treated no better than slaves and worse than the horses of the aristocracy. Money ruled then as now.


  5. Enjoy your trip. Another old book? 😀 Thanks for sharing your findings with us.


  6. I didn’t know where the phrase came from – thanks for the education! I love the cloud pictures; especially the rainbow. I’m glad your poor dog could warm up by the fire after the walk 🙂


  7. I like them each story adds something to the history of that saying… 🙂


  8. Pingback: Not Old Dogs, But Old Books – A World Apart

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